What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when He said this? Wasn’t He actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest. Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ. Don’t you realise that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.1 Corinthians 9:7-14
Paul is continuing on the same theme he started. “The Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it”. he stacks up the evidence in his argument. The soldier, the farmer, the shepherd.This is not merely human opinion, the Word of God says it. And it is not talking about the ox in reality. its talking about those who plant spiritual seed. But why is Paul discussing this? He is stating the general principle but also using it in his argument related to their apostleship and acceptance as ministers of the gospel.
Paul says to the Corinthians, “shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported?” The answer is yes, inference being after all we have done for you. Remember his comments in verse 2 indicate that among the Corinthians there is no question about Paul’s apostleship. He is merely stressing the principle of supporting those who minister the Word to you. But then makes the strong statement that he and Barnabus have never used this right. They would put up with anything to not use the right.
The question of support for full time workers is a challenging matter on both sides of the fence. I ought to know, I have sat on both sides of the fence and have struggled with the “yes”and the “no”. Tania and I have lived supported by God’s people now for almost 40 years. It confounds the imagination really. It certainly baffles the secular world. There have been times when I have wanted to work to provide for my family and not accept gifted income. But have sensed God saying to not work and do it His way and see what happens. And indeed He comes through on His promise to provide my every need and that of the wife and children I bring along with me. There have been other times when I have been offered a contribution by an elderly woman whom I knew couldn’t afford it. When I have tried to refuse it and suggest she keep her money, she showed her indignation to me, telling me if she chooses to give to the Lord’s work then who am I to refuse it. If I don’t receive it, how can she give to support the Lord’s work. She said “Ian Vail, don’t you rob me of the blessing of giving to God’s work.” Wow consider yourself duly rebuked Ian.
We have now been living like that for 30 years and it has been an amazing adventure. We can say like Paul that we have learned the secret to be content in plenty or in lack. It matters not really because God is in control of it all and He constantly shows His hand in some really incredible ways. I wouldn’t exchange this life for anything as it keeps me dependant on Him. There is no better place to be. Maybe Paul needed an elderly lady like our friend to tick him off and help to see his role in the process of God’s supply. If I could I would send her over but it’s too late Paul is not available. Actually Paul and Clarice are now in the same place.
Spending is seasonal, but giving is a lifestyle.Brian Houston
You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. do your giving while you’re living.Anon
Contentment is not when you have everything, but when you really want nothing.Jose Carol